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NETBALL-Jamaica trio helps catapult Thunderbirds into second. – Caribbean Times


MELBOURNE, CMC – Another solid performance from the Jamaican trio of defenders Shamera Sterling-Humphrey and Latanya Wilson and goal shooter Romelda Aiken-George enabled defending champions Adelaide Thunderbirds to make home advantage count with a 67-41 win against Melbourne Mavericks in the Super Netball League over the weekend.

But the big news was that the embattled Queensland Firebirds pulled off the biggest upset of the season, putting their off-court turbulence aside and climbing off the bottom of the standings with a stunning 78-70 win against West Coast Fever.

Fever was expected to make light work of the Firebirds at the Nissan Arena on Saturday in Brisbane, but the hosts were desperate to avoid a third successive defeat and carried the fight to Green Army.

Jamaica captain Jhaniele Fowler-Nembhard, arguably the best goal shooter in the world, scored 65 goals on 57 from 58, scoring from inside the arc and four from nine from outside, but she failed to inspire the Fever, and they crumbled to their second defeat of the season.

A blow-out appeared to be in the making when the Fever steamed ahead 20-12 in the first quarter, but an 8-0 burst, capped by back-to-back super shots from Donnell Wallam in the last 12 seconds, drew Firebirds level 20-20 at the break.

With acting captain Lara Dunkley firing at wing attack and Macy Gardner replacing Hulita Veve at the center, Queensland took a shock 41-39 lead into the halftime break when Wallam drilled a two-pointer on the siren.

A pair of turnovers from Fowler-Nembhard at the start of the third term enabled the Firebirds to tighten their grip, and they finished the quarter with a 57-51 lead.

Jamaican defender Kadie-Ann Dehaney was suspended for two minutes during the final stanza for dangerous contact, making the trip more challenging for the Fever. Fowler-Nembhard got them to close the gap. Still, the Firebirds finished the match with a 7-0 burst to seal the deal.

Fever goal attack Shanice Beckford of Jamaica ended with four goals from eight attempts, including three missed super shots, and Dehaney finished with two interceptions and four deflections.

The result meant that Fever has dropped from second to third in the standings, on 32 points, the same number for the T-birds, who have climbed into second – four behind leaders Melbourne Vixens –

After riding another defensive master class from the Jamaican duo of Sterling-Humphrey and Wilson.

The two Sunshine Girlz, as the Jamaican national team is known, combined for 12 deflections and seven intercepts and forced the Mavs into coughing up 30 turnovers to help the T-birds maintain their unbeaten record on the same day at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and push their title defense into overdrive.

The T-birds ended the first quarter strongly to lead 15-14. Still, they had cause for concern when Sterling-Humphrey went off early in the second quarter after hurting her head while contesting a rebound with Mavericks shooter and fellow Jamaican Shimona Jok.

Wilson took over the goalkeeper bib from her compatriot and racked up four deflections for the term. The hosts sprung to a 33-25 lead at halftime.

Sterling-Humphrey returned after the break and made her presence felt again. The T-birds led 49-34 after the third stanza, but she continued to wreak havoc in the fourth period, enabling the home team to close out the match strongly.

Aiken-George ended the match with 39 goals from 43 attempts for the T-birds, and Jok finished with 25 from 28.

Elsewhere, Jamaican defender Jodi-Ann Ward had one interception and three deflections. Still, her struggling Giants outfits stumbled to their eighth defeat of the season after clutch scoring from Steph Fretwell and defensive impact from Ash Ervin helped Sunshine Coast Lightning move closer to cementing the fourth spot with a 71-66 home win on Sunday at the UniSC Arena.

And the New South Wales Swifts continued their struggles without ace Trinidad & Tobago goal shooter Samantha Wallace-Joseph when the Vixens inflicted a demoralizing 69-49 defeat on Sunday at the John Cain Arena.

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